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March 14, 2000

Patrick Rafter


MIKI SINGH: Pat wins today 3-6. Next up is Alex Corretja. They played here in 1995, which Pat won in three sets. They'll play tomorrow. Don't have the schedule yet for time. First question.

Q. How do you think you played today? How do you think things shaped up for you?

PATRICK RAFTER: I think you've got to put in it perspective a little bit. I'm pretty happy with the way it all went. The shoulder felt pretty good. You know, I missed a lot of easy stuff. That's just coming back. After I missed those easy shots, I just sort of look at myself and laugh. That's just part of coming back, probably the concentration. But I'm pretty happy with it overall.

Q. Would it be fair to say that you're still vulnerable on the court? If so, how much longer do you think it's going to take until you feel totally comfortable?

PATRICK RAFTER: Definitely vulnerable. It's still a day-to-day thing. I think if I can keep doing the sort of work that I'm doing, and keep hitting the balls and get the strength there, but also having my days off, you know, I think another really good month away. I think I'll be strong again. Then it's a matter of if I can deal with everything mentally.

Q. How is the serve? Are you serving the way you want to or is it 80 percent, 90 percent?

PATRICK RAFTER: I was very happy with the way I could pop the serve today. I had good pace, pretty good direction on it. The only thing that I haven't been doing that I normally have done in the past is I've been doing half an hour serving every day. I've been keeping the rhythm up. When I go out to play matches, 95 percent of the time I'm going to serve a high percentage, I'm going to serve very well. That's the thing that I haven't been able to do. I just don't do the serving practice. That's something that's going to come in the next couple of months.

Q. Are you getting the same kick on the ball that you were?

PATRICK RAFTER: I don't think these courts are kicking as well as they have in the past. It's probably taking the slice better than the kick out there. I'm not taking this court as a gauge on how I can kick the serve.

Q. I read somewhere that you were still holding back a little bit. Is that still the case?

PATRICK RAFTER: Last week I had to. It was far too cold. The conditions were a bit brutal there for me to go after my serve. I'm not in a position right now. If it feels a little bit sore, I'm not going to go out a hundred percent on it. Today I went pretty hard on it. We'll see how it pulls up tomorrow. I'm pretty confident it will pull up pretty well.

Q. Alex Corretja in the next round.

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, mate. I'll be out there ready to go hard again. As I said in the last couple of weeks, we'll just see how I pull up in the morning. I'm pretty confident it will feel good in the morning. Another really heavy day for serving. Listen, Alex is a great player. But I still think I have a very good chance of winning.

Q. All in all, is this the best day you've had back?

PATRICK RAFTER: Yeah, in a match situation it is. So far, yeah. Some of the practice days have been really good in the past, as well. But this is matches; it's different. Probably on the court in match situations, it's my best.

Q. In your time off the circuit, what's the one thing that you miss the most from being on the circuit?

PATRICK RAFTER: I didn't really miss anything. All I know is when I retire, it won't be too hard, I don't think (laughter). Put it this way: since I've been back on the tour, I've really had a good time. It's been great hanging out with the guys, catching up with my mates, doing that. That's what I miss, in the locker room, having fun, the jokes. That's probably the thing that I probably did miss. But the grind and the travel is the part that I haven't missed.

Q. To what degree did you miss the press conferences?

PATRICK RAFTER: I certainly didn't miss my Stars Programs, let's put it that way.

Q. What are your expectations of yourself this year?

PATRICK RAFTER: They'll probably change throughout the year as it goes on; and my results, I don't know how they'll go. I've always said at the beginning of the year, if I can get through this year with having good weeks and maintaining a pretty respectable ranking, my shoulder to be healthy and strong, for it to be a hundred percent for next year, I think I'll be very happy if I can have an outcome like that at the end of this year.

Q. Ranking is unimportant?

PATRICK RAFTER: Listen, I don't think it's really fair for me to put that sort of pressure on myself to maintain a Top-10 ranking. I'm just going to go out there and see what happens. At this stage, it's definitely health first.

Q. Can you talk about the serve-and-volley, how a lot of people are saying it's impossible to be a top player playing exclusively serve-and-volley because of how big people are returning, the courts are slower.

PATRICK RAFTER: Today I think the court is a very fair court. I find it quite quick. I think it's a very nice court. I think you can play both styles of games on it. To be a serve-volleyer, you have to work very hard on it, it's very hard to develop at a young age. For me it was anyway. Listen, it's not necessarily going to be dead, but the tendency of the players these days is to stay back more, and the courts suit that in general. You know, you're always going to have your serve-volleyers out there making the game different.

Q. Nice to see you back.


End of FastScripts….

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